MAPUTO, 26 February 2021 – Authorities in Mozambique’s central province of Zambezi say funnel caterpillars have entirely destroyed crops on farms covering about 143 hectares (353 acres).
The worst-hit farming communities are in the Mocuba district of Zambezi province, according to agronomists and local officials.
Farmers had been forewarned of the caterpillar invasion and encouraged to spray their farms with insecticides, according to Florentino Cardoso, one of the local officials.
District officials in Mocuba say as many as 60 families are at risk of losing their entire maize harvest to the crop-devouring caterpillars.
Funnel caterpillars have a humongous appetite and great love for devouring the maize crop.
Devastation or failure of the maize crop would trigger food insecurity in Mozambique.
The staple food for a majority of Mozambicans is “xima” (pronounced “chi-mah”), a thick porridge made from maize/corn flour.
Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths. They damage the leaves and fruit in many crops causing serious economic damage for commercial farmers and leading to food insecurity or even famine among hard-hit small-scale farmers.